SHARKS LOSE TOP SPOT TO UNDEFEATED CHEETAHS
*Caption: The Sharks players execute a line out in the match they lost against the Cheetahs on home ground on Saturday (Picture credit : Howard Cleland)
Written by: Nkosazane Dambuza
The Toyota Free State Cheetahs remain undefeated and move to the top of the Currie Cup table, following a hugely physical clash against the Cell C Sharks, winning 38 – 30 on Saturday evening.
The 6th round match was held in Growthpoint Kings Park Stadium, the home of the Cell C Sharks, in Durban, in the 78th edition of the Annual Currie Cup Rugby Union.
The slippery conditions made it challenging for both teams to quickly settle into the game. Although the Sharks opened with a three-nil lead in the first five minutes, the Cheetahs pounced back, forcing a scrum to take the lead.
The lead was frequently exchanged between the rugby giants in a ‘see-saw’ fashion, which made the match unpredictable throughout.
The Sharks were faced with an early setback in the game when Sharks’ skiper, Philip van der Walt, sustained a bloody head injury and had to leave the field. Sharks’ senior players, Odwa Ndungane and Stephan Lewies, sustained arm injuries in the final quarter of the game and also had to withdraw from the game.
Sharks’ coach, Robert Du Preez said that his team had a fine set piece but they battled to cope with losing the experienced players to injuries.
“Losing the captain and two other senior players caused the relatively young team to struggle and they just battled to get over the losses,” said Du Preez.
The Free State side were jovial over the win away from home and snatched the top spot of the Currie Cup log from the Cell C Sharks.
Franco Smith, the coach of the Cheetahs said, “Although our goal is not always to win, a win away from home is very special.”
He further explained that their goal is to serve South African rugby on and off the field and give young players opportunities to showcase their skills.
The Cheetahs look forward to their following clash against the Golden Lions, which will take place in the Toyota Stadium (Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, on the 15th of September, while the Sharks deem their next clash with the Eastern Province Kings on the 17th of September in Durban, a crucial win.